Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Communication Sciences & Disorders


Genderlect is linguistic performance characteristic of gender groups (Kramer, 1974). The present study was designed to investigate genderlect in the form of noun usage among college students. The specific purpose of this study was to determine if there were noun choosing differences between male and female subjects in referencing the concepts “adult male" and "adult female"; and, if present, did the sex of the subjects and/or sex role of the subjects effect the differences.

This purpose was accomplished by collecting, a written language sample from each of 45 male and 50 female subjects. The subjects were shown a series of eight soundless vignettes and asked to respond to two oral questions. The nouns collected from written subject responses were analyzed for total number and for the number of different nouns descriptive of "adult male" and "adult female." These nouns were then classified into five categories using a modification of Baker's (1981) classification system for terms descriptive of “adult female." The Bem Sex Role Inventory (Bem, 1976) was administered to all the subjects to determine the sex role of the subjects.

Based on the results obtained from the statistical analyses of the data, it was concluded that there are many similarities and some differences in the selection of nouns by college students in referring to "adult male” and "adult female." These differences were found to be primarily a function of sex of the subject. Sex role of the subject appeared to exert a secondary influence on noun choosing behaviors, although it was not as readily detectable through the statistical analyses the numerical data.